HC Deb 03 August 1900 vol 87 cc661-93

"That a sum, not exceeding £32,250, lie granted to Her Majesty, to complete the sum necessary to defray the Charge which will come in course of payment during the year ending on the 31st day of March, 1901, for the Salaries and Expenses of the Department of Her Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, including a Grant in aid of certain Expenses connected with Emigration."

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House doth agree with the Committee in the said Resolution."

MR. HEDDERWICK (Wick Burghs)

I rise for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to the subject of the administration of justice in the Protectorate of Sierra Leone, and I do so believing that the question is one which touches very nearly the reputation of this country. It therefore deserves the very careful consideration of Parliament. I hope I may be able to obtain from the Secretary for the Colonies some explanation and some assurance of a satisfactory character with respect to the matter I am now about to raise. I crave the indulgence of the House while I refer briefly to the debate which I raised last session on the Second Reading of the Appropriation Bill.* On that occasion I challenged not only the conduct of Governor Sir F. Cardew in regard to the administration of affairs generally in the Protectorate, but I challenged also the policy of the right lion. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary. Let me refer briefly to some of the facts on which I base my present remarks. In addition to our possession of the Crown Colony we have within quite recent years assumed a Protectorate over a very wide stretch of territory lying in the immediate hinterland of the colony. I take it that that Protectorate was assumed in order to check the encroachments of the French, which threatened to interfere with the trade of the colony. The French have no doubt proved, at any rate so far as West * See The parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxvi., page 100. Africa is concerned, very unneighbourly neighbours. But the assumption of the Protectorate led to several very important and grave results. In the first place it necessitated a large increase of the Frontier police; that entailed, of course, an increased expenditure, which in its turn necessitated the finding of new means for augmenting the revenues of the colony, which had already begun to show signs of serious decadence. In order to recoup the increased cost of the Frontier police force and certain reduplications of offices which had been instituted, Sir F. Cardew resolved on the imposition of a hut tax. I am not going into the merits of that; I only say that the imposition of the hut tax was followed almost immediately by a rising of the natives, accompanied by bootless massacre and the shedding of much innocent blood. It paralysed the entire trade of the colony and brought about a serious reduction of revenue. It has been freely said that the real cause of the rising was the imposition of the hut tax and the brutal mode in which it was collected. These accusations weighed so seriously with the right hon. Gentleman that he did a thing for which he deserves the highest credit —he sent the best man he could find to Sierra Leone as a Royal Commission to inquire into the truth of these allegations —he sent, in fact, Sir David Chalmers, a man of known ability, who had spent many years in the service of his Queen in that part of Africa. He, after a laborious inquiry, reported that the rising and its bloody sequelæ were, in point of fact, brought about by the imposition of the hut tax and the mode in which it was collected. In the course of the debate to which I have referred I commented on the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had had the Report of Sir David Chalmers in his hands since January, 1899 and that it was not until five months later—just before the Colonial Vote was taken—that it was presented to Members. The right hon. Gentleman stated that the Report of Sir David Chalmers contained grave accusations against Sir Frederick Cardew, and that he did not think it right and proper that these accusations should be published until Sir Frederick Cardew had an opportunity of making his reply. I find no fault with that statement. It seemed only fair that Sir Frederick Cardew should have an opportunity of making any statement he could in answer to the findings of Sir David Chalmers. But I confess that it was unfortunate that in his reply to me the right hon. Gentleman should have used the phrase "accusations" in connection with the Report of Sir David Chalmers. Sir David Chalmers made no accusations: he made a very laborious and minute inquiry in his capacity as Royal Commissioner, as a judicial officer, and he simply arrived at certain conclusions which were based upon the evidence brought before him. But the words used by the right hon. Gentleman certainly conveyed an imputation upon the impartiality of Sir David Chalmers that has naturally given very great pain to his; relatives who have survived that distinguished public servant, and to whom his memory is dear. I do not know that I could better bring that home to the House than by reading a short passage from a memoir which has been recently written by Lady Chalmers in vindication of her husband's memory. This is what she says— Sir David Chalmers died on 5th August. Continuous work for several months in Sierra Leone at the worst season of the year, together with a return to this climate in the depth of winter, and the exertion of preparing his Report, without allowing himself a day for rest or relaxation, proved too great a tax on his constitution, already tried by the strain of many years of strenuous tropical service. He lived long enough to know how apparently fruitlessly he hail sacrificed his own ease and comfort, but was spared the knowledge of the painful reflection cast on his fairness and justice—qualities which he valued above all others, and which his whole previous official record had exemplified in a marked degree. On behalf of those whom he left, it is not too much to say that the depreciation of his work and the reflection cast on his memory served to deepen the sorrow of a great bereavement. These are very simple words, but it seems to me that they are not without pathos. I cannot help thinking myself that the right hon. Gentleman used the words which he did use in the heat of reply, and without meaning to cast any imputation on the impartiality of Sir David Chalmers, and I am strengthened in that view by the fact that the very things which were referred to by the right hon. Gentleman as accusations brought by Sir David Chalmers were, in point of fact, part of the instructions given to Sir David Chalmers by the right hon. Gentleman himself in the reference made by him. If I am right in that conjecture, I can only express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take the opportunity of saying something which will assuage the pain that he has caused, and which was not at all deserved.


What were the words I used? Will the hon. Gentleman kindly repeat the exact words?


If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to Hansard he will find there that he used the words, "Sir David Chalmers in his Report had made accusations against public officials." The only public officials in question wore Sir Frederick Cardew and possibly the District Commissioners. The word "accusations" was not a proper word to use with reference to the findings of a judicial officer who was only coming to conclusions with reference to the evidence offered to him. Before I go further, there is one point on which we ought to have some explanation. Sir David Chalmers founded his Report upon a mass of evidence. The volume of that evidence fills over 600 pages, and these minutes of evidence were in the hands of the Colonial Secretary at the same time as the Report. But that evidence was not-furnished to the Members of this House until September, when Parliament was no longer in session, and, therefore, it was impossible for any hon. Member to form any sound judgment as to whether the Report of Sir David Chalmers or the reply of Sir Frederick Cardew was well founded or not. I think that was an injustice to the work done by Sir David Chalmers, and it is a matter on which we are entitled to ask for some explanation from the right hon. Gentleman. I pass from these matters—which, after all, are in a sense personal, although) I do not know that it is necessary for me to apologise for them; and it seems to me that justice should be rendered to individuals as well as to nations, and that if charges are made which reflect on an officer who has been appointed by a Minister of State, these charges should either be explained or defended or withdrawn—I pass from these matters gladly to that which is the object which I had more immediately in view, namely, to a consideration of the mode in which justice is now being administered under the sovereignty of Her Majesty the Queen in this Protectorate, and to the powers and qualifications of the persons who are appointed to dispense that justice. To those who cherish the idea, and in some respects justly cherish the idea, that wherever the arms or the power of this country go they carry with them a strict and impartial law, and the strict and impartial administration of justice, I confess that the reading of that evidence compiled so laboriously by Sir David Chalmers is nothing but shocking. What do we find? In this vast Protectorate immediately behind the colony of Sierra Leone, and over which are scattered some millions of natives, justice is administered by District Commissioners, who have powers of life and death, and from whoso decision there is no appeal, who have not I the most rudimentary notion of the laws they are called upon to administer. Well, these are grave charges to make, but I think a short reference to the evidence compiled by Sir David Chalmers will more than substantiate them. I may, with the indulgence of the House, read I some extracts from that evidence. Captain Sharpe, who is by way of being a very superior District Commissioner in the Hinterland, a man to whom is committed the power of life and death, says— I never knew there was imprisonment without hard labour. I never heard it questioned by the Attorney General. I fancy [he says] I can remember the expression somewhere 'with or without hard labour.' Then the Royal Commissioner asks him with regard to some points in the Protectorate Ordinances. The Royal Commissioner says— Then I take it that your view of the Ordinance is that, notwithstanding the provision of Section 48, which enacts that 'if any person liable to pay tax refuses to pay, levy on his goods shall follow; nevertheless, by giving an order to the same person that he shall pay, an offence can be raised up which is punishable under Section 67'? Captain SHARPE: I read this Ordinance that where a man refuses to pay I can take my choice of these two sections. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: I may draw your attention to the fact that Section 68 does not deal with the subject of tax, whereas Section 48 particularly deals with payment of tax. I am speaking of the chiefs. Captain SHARPE: I should read it that verbal refusing was resisting. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Section 68 does not bear any relation to the payment of tax? Captain SHARPE: I should say that in asking for the tax I was exercising my duty, and by refusing to pay he was resisting me in the exercise of my duty. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Then I would like to be clear upon the point with regard to these five chiefs: Was each one of them convicted of the three offences that are named in the sheet, namely—(1) Inciting others by threats to defy the law (offence under Section 67); (2) Refusing to collect the hut tax due (offence under Section 68); (3) Overawing by force a public officer in the execution of his duty (Section 68)? Captain SHARPE: I can only go by the sheet. I cannot trust my memory. It is apparently so by the sheet. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Upon these convictions the chiefs were apprehended and sent to Freetown? Captain SHARPE: Yes. Then the Royal Commissioner raises another point. He says— Then I show you this conviction that you sent down as warrant for imprisoning them; this is not in your hand writing? Captain SHARPE: No; it is my clerk's. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Just read it. You see that this is not the same charge as on the sheet? Captain SHARPE: I did not understand it was to be the verbatim charge. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER; You see, on comparing this statement of offence with the other, they are different? Captain SHARPE: It is certainly different verbally. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: I should say more; it is quite a different offence. Captain SHARPE: Would it not have the same meaning legally? Well, that is one instance. I take a shorter passage from the evidence of Sub-Inspector Crowther. He says— I was present when Captain Sharpe made the order for the arrest of the live chiefs to be sent to Freetown. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Was any charge made against Bokari Bamp to which he was asked to plead? Sub-Inspector CROWTHER: Captain Sharpe simply told him, 'You are charged with refusing to pay the hut tax.' The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Was any charge made against Santigi Kearch? Sub-Inspector CROWTHER: He was charged with Ansinnani Bali with aiding the chief not to pay. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER; Was Bokari Bamp asked for his defence? Sub-Inspector CROWTHER: I do not remember that he was asked.…Captain Sharpe asked Bokari Bamp after he had charged them, 'What have you to say?' He said, 'I do not say I will not pay, I will say I want to consult the other chiefs.' Then he asked the four others, and they said they did not aid him not to pay. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Thereupon did anything more take place, or were they at once sent to the canoe? Sub-Inspector CROWTHER: They were sent to the canoe. The ROYAL COMMISSIONER: Nothing more took place? Sub-Inspector CROWTHER: No, they were sent to the boat in handcuffs with a police escort. I pass to another—Captain Moore. In answer to the question of the Royal Commissioner, "Do you remember whether you took part in the hearing of the charge against Pa Membana on 21st January?" he said— I tried him and sentenced him—a year's hard labour and thirty-six lashes. I wan sorry the Governor would not allow me to inflict the lashes. Pa Membana's offence was that he refused to pay the hut tax on the ground that he had no power, being subordinate to Bai Kompah, and that the people were too poor. I have drawn attention to those three cases to show how incompetent the District Commissioners are to deal with the law, because in the case of Captain Moore you have a man who has actually treated these independent chiefs as if they were felons, causing them to undergo the lash, a thing he has no right or power to do, instead of treating them as civil offenders on whose goods a levy might have been made. There is still another matter in this connection which has in my opinion a serious bearing on the whole matter, and that is that these judicial officers are at the same time captains and chiefs of the Frontier police force. What is the character of this Frontier police force? It is composed entirely of natives drawn from Sierra Leone—that is from the Protectorate— and in many cases they have been the slaves of those very chiefs, and these very men who are charged with the protection of the Protectorate and the care of property within it have committed all sorts of crimes from the plundering of natives and brutally illtreating them to the ravishment of women. These offences are not' committed against ordinary natives only, but against the wives and daughters of chiefs who are laid hold of. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Colonial Secretary if ho imagines this state of affairs can go on long without serious consequences. How do we know how much this treatment has had to do with the rising in Ashanti, which is a neighbouring country? The right hon. Gentleman has admitted to-day that he does not know the cause of the rising, and it is not time yet to inquire; but he knows perfectly well that news travels quickly from native to native across vast districts, and I can imagine—it may be wrong, and the one case may have nothing to do with the other—I can imagine that nothing would be more likely to induce the natives in the neighbouring country to seize a convenient opportunity to rise than the treatment which independent chiefs received from the District Commissioners, and the fact that they were drum-majored by the Frontier police composed largely of men who had a short time before been the servants and slaves of those very chiefs. These are matters, it may be said, the Colonial Secretary could not possibly know, and personally I admit that recently his whole time must have been largely aborbed in matters of much greater-importance and of much more absorbing interest; but it must be remembered that these things have been going on for some years. Indeed, before the South African matter became acute at all, these things were taking place, and it must be recollected that the Report of Sir David Chalmers and the evidence on which I have founded all the statements I have made were in the hands of the Colonial Secretary at the beginning of 1899. There is also this to be said, that the Colonial Secretary has received a memorandum not only from the Traders' Association, but also from the Chamber of Commerce in Sierra Leone, and a minute from the Bar Association in Sierra Leone. Nearly all these memoranda agree in certain recommendations. There are at least four matters on which they agree. One is that the public mind is dissatisfied, and I cannot wonder at it when the administration of justice is thus conducted in the Protectorate. The second is that the power of capital punishment, vested in these District Commissioners, should be abolished. The third is that there should be the right of appeal to the Supreme Court. I think I have already said that there is no right of appeal from the District Commissioners at present, and that the only check even in the case of the capital penalty is that before being carried out the sentence must be submitted to the governor, who is Sir Frederick Cardew. The fourth matter on which they are agreed is that natives should be permitted to employ the services of counsel or solicitor at least in all criminal or quasi-criminal cases. To these recommendations there should be added that no officer of the Frontier police force should be a District Commissioner, and secondly that no one should be appointed to the office of Commissioner who has not at least some knowledge of the law which he is called upon to administer. These recommendations I very earnestly commend to the attention of the right hon. Gentleman. I think they are worthy of his attention, and it is in regard to them that I seek, if possible, to obtain some assurance that at least they will receive his serious consideration.

MR. URE (Linlithgowshire)

I fully admit that the province of criticising and forming a judgment upon the administration of Sierra Leone is one of no ordinary difficulty. The subject is extremely complicated and embarrassing. On the one hand you have the careful and exhaustive Report of Sir David Chalmers, a man whose competency no one questions, a man whom the right hon. Gentleman himself selected on account of his judiciousness, long experience, and knowledge, and a man, further, who approached the consideration of the question with no sort of bias on the one side or on the other. He was a retired official, and was not in any way responsible for the imposition of the tax or the method of administration adopted in the collection of it. His impartiality and competency were beyond all question, and I do not understand that the right hon. Gentleman, either in his speech at this time last year, or in the letter of 7th July, 1899, cast any sort of reflection on the impartiality and ability of Sir David Chalmers. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman, if he used the word "accusation," which appears in the Hansard report, did not for a moment mean to cast any reflection whatever on the perfect impartiality, ability, and painstaking anxiety with which the Commissioner had discharged his task. It was certainly an unusual step to take—I do not say unprecedented—to pass by the main recommendations of the Royal Commissioner, which were, in the first place, to cease altogether the collection of the tax, and in the second place, to introduce radical changes in the Protectorate. The right hon. Gentleman was confronted with this difficulty: that, so far as I can judge, there was no practical alterna- tive for him as a means of raising the revenue necessary for the purpose of keeping down the slave trade and slave raiding. If slave raiding was to be effectually controlled and checked in the Protectorate the Frontier police was undoubtedly necessary, and required to be paid. The natural requirements of the Protectorate demanded the imposition of some tax, and so far as I can judge from the Report of Sir David Chalmers, the alternative method he suggested would not have been adequate to raise the necessary fund to pay the Frontier police. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentleman had before him the very detailed observations of the administrator of the Protectorate—an officer, no doubt, who approached the consideration of the question with a certain bias. I think the right hon. Gentleman will concede that that was so. But at the same time I will frankly say that I have read with care his observations on the Report, and that they appear to me to be couched in language of studied moderation. I do not hesitate to say that his criticism is not reckless or ill-considered, but careful, minute, and acute criticism of the conclusions arrived at by Sir David Chalmers. No doubt in questions of this kind much depends upon disputed questions of fact. Great value is always attached to the opinion of the man who has seen and heard the witnesses give their evidence. The right hon. Gentleman will, I think, agree with me that in so far as the question before him depended upon the determination of disputed facts, he was bound to place greater reliance on the conclusion arrived at by the Royal Commissioner than that of Sir Frederick Cardew, who, I think, was not examined as a witness himself, and was, not present while the evidence was being taken. But while I make that observation, I am not one of those who attach undue importance—some, I think, do—to the opinion of the man who has seen and heard the witnesses, especially where the solution of the question which the Secretary of State had to determine depended to a large extent upon matter of opinion and inference drawn from the facts, and not upon the determination whether this fact was proved or that fact not proved; because as I read both the Report and observations, the divergence between Sir Frederick Cardew and Sir David Chalmers turned on the conclusions to be deduced from documents. I did not understand the right hon. Gentleman to come to the conclusion that Sir David Chalmers' findings in fact had been successfully impeached, but rather the inference he drew was that they had been successfully challenged by Sir Frederick Cardew. The right hon. Gentleman frankly admitted that this was a question on which two honest and impartial men might well hold entirely different opinions, and that being so, I cannot myself conceive that any administrator placed in the position the right hon. Gentleman is in to-day could well have come to a different conclusion from that at which he arrived, even although in coming to that conclusion he had to pass by some of the recommendations of the Royal Commissioner he himself had appointed. The criticisms that have been passed by my hon. friend who preceded me in this debate upon the competency and the character of the resident District Commissioners are certainly grave and serious. But, after all, I suppose the Colonial Department, like other Departments, must depend upon the implements placed in its hands for carrying out the work it has to do, and you cannot expect to get men thoroughly versed in difficult legal problems, and perfect in the exhibition of tact and discretion in the performance of undoubtedly delicate duties, unless indeed you pay salaries which would involve another tax far beyond the ability of the natives to pay. In short, the right hon. Gentleman must do the best he can with his District Commissioners, and it would be difficult, I think, for him with Sir Frederick Cardew's opinion before him with regard to these men, considering that he has had large experience, to discard the recommendation of that gentleman with regard to the duties to be imposed on the District Commissioners. Here is what is said by Sir Frederick Cardew in his observations on the Royal Commissioner's Report— With respect to the District Commissioners all are English gentlemen and men of honour; they all possess considerable intelligence, education, and experience, and have unrivalled opportunities, next to the missionaries, of studying the natives from all points of view; they are in close touch with them, are constantly hearing their palavers and disputes, and besides get much information of their customs and habits through the police and native officials. No Department in Downing Street can set aside an opinion like that from the man on the spot. We must do our best with the materials at hand, and, with the recommendations the right hon. Gentleman has made cautioning these District Commissioners to be as careful and discreet in the administration as possible, the hut tax must go on and be collected; and one is glad to see that recent experience since the rebellion was quelled has tended to show that the hut tax has not been met with so much disfavour by the natives as was at first anticipated. Now that they understand it better, and the motives for its collection, and also the advantages that will accrue to them from the imposition of the tax for the payment of the Frontier police, who, at all events, preserve the peace, and who have caused inter-tribal feuds to cease, they will pay with as much alacrity as any man ever paid a direct tax imposed on him, I have risen mainly for the purpose of inviting the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to certain strictures which are passed on his letter of 7th July, 1899, casting reflection, I think, on the impartiality and competency, the care and anxiety, with which the Royal Commissioner did his work. The right hon. Gentleman, I think, perhaps used the expression "accusation" without intending thereby to suggest any serious imputation on Sir David Chalmers.


It is a mere statement of fact.


I hope that in what I am now going to say the right hon. Gentleman will not see any desire to suggest that he or the Colonial Department really intended seriously to question Sir David Chalmers' impartiality and competency, but I readily admit that it was impossible for the right hon. Gentleman or even probably for those in his Department to master the immense mass of evidence we have before us, extending to close on 700 pages. I really do not think that it would have benefited the right hon. Gentleman in considering the question if he had perused that enormous mass of evidence. I have perused a considerable part of it. I think part of it is very unintelligible, and other portions have no direct relation to the important questions raised and referred to in the strictures which have been made, and which, as I think, are not sustained either by Sir David Chalmers' Report or the evidence which accompanied it. The Colonial Office, I take it, rather fell into error from failure to minutely examine the evidence and the appendices than from any desire to impute want of care and competency on the part of the Royal Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman will find on pages 166 and 167 of the Blue-book the strictures to which I refer. I think they are four in number. I will take them in their order as they occur. In the first place, dealing with the important conclusion come to by Sir David Chalmers that "the arrests and imprisonments" of those who refused to pay the hut tax "were not legal under the law of the Protectorate Ordinance or any other law under which the District Commissioner was authorised to act," the right hon. Gentleman says that Sir David Chalmers in expressing that view was differing from the acting Attorney General. In his letter the right hon. Gentleman says— As to the arrests, Sir F. Cardew has pointed out that the acting Attorney General advised that they were legal, and that Sir D. Chalmers, while quoting certain sections of the Ordinance, has omitted to quote those on which the acting Attorney General relied. This seems a small matter, but at the same time, when you consider that the Report was made by a trained lawyer, a man who was naturally to be expected to investigate with care and minuteness the legal aspects of the question with which he was called upon to deal, it does suggest some lack of care on the part of Sir David Chalmers, if not a lack of impartiality, when the right hon. Gentleman says he omitted to quote those sections on which the Attorney General relied. If you turn to Sir David Chalmers' Report, page 30, you will find that immediately after expressing his own opinion in paragraph 71, to which the right hon. Gentleman refers, he goes on to state the opinion of the Attorney General. When I turn to one of the appendices I find quoted in full the opinion of the Attorney General, and following that opinion there is a verbatim citation of the sections of the Ordinance on which the Attorney General relies; so that it was not right to say that Sir David Chalmers omitted to quote the sections. I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will see that it was scarcely a fair representation to say that this most painstaking man had omitted to quote the sections upon which an opposite legal opinion to his own was based. I do not for a moment seek to offer any opinion whether Sir David Chalmers or the Attorney General was right. I am inclined certainly to the view that Sir David Chalmers was right. Whether that be so or not, I think I have shown that the Royal Commissioner was in this respect, as I think in all other respects, scrupulously fair to his opponent. The next stricture passed on the Report is a graver one. The right hon. Gentleman in his letter, page 167, says— A very grave charge is suggested against Captain Moore, in paragraph 107 of the Report. The Royal Commissioner refers to a statement by a native witness that this officer killed a youth carrying a cutlass, although he adds that he does not lay stress on it; but when he examined Captain Moore, which was done after the native evidence referred to had been given, he put no question to him on the subject, and did not even mention that evidence to him of which Captain Moore himself at that time had no knowledge. I regret that Sir David Chalmers omitted to give this officer the opportunity which he has since had of denying the charge and thereby satisfactorily exculpating himself from a most serious imputation, it will be seen on reference to Sir F. Cardew's observations (paragraph 48), that Captain Moore indignantly repudiates the charges and states that the evidence was absolutely untrue in every particular. There are two statements in that paragraph which, I think, cast a very grave reflection on Sir David Chalmers in connection with the performance of his duty. In the first place it is said that he suggests a very grave charge against Captain Moore, and in the second place it is said he did not give Captain Moore an opportunity of repudiating the charge. I answer this stricture thus. In the first place I say that the Royal Commissioner suggested no charge against Captain Moore, but, on the contrary, stated distinctly that although the charge had been made he did not believe it. If the right hon. Gentleman will refer to Sir David Chalmers' Report, page 45, he will find words to bear out what I have said. Dealing with the question of the enforcement of the tax Sir David Chalmers says— A youth, carrying a cutlass or sword, was met by a party of police, who told him to give up his weapon, and tried to take it from him. He did not surrender it, and was endeavouring to turn away, when two of the police fired, and he was killed. The matter is related very circumstantially by Yan Kuba, Headman of Mabobo, where the occurrence took place, who had no conceivable motive for inventing the statement; also by Kanray, who, Yan Kuba says, was present as an eye-witness, and is corroborated by Boroh Cabendah. Murano Carimo also made a corroborative statement, but I do not consider his statement that the shot was fired by Captain Moore correct, which is not in accordance with other evidence, and I do not lay stress on it. On the whole of the evidence, although, of course, it has not been tested as judicial evidence would be, I am satisfied the youth was killed by the police, and in the manner stated. I submit it was not fair in the letter of 7th July to say that Sir David Chalmers suggested a grave charge against Captain Moore when he distinctly says in his report— I do not consider his statement that the shot was fired by Captain Moore was correct, which is not in accordance with our evidence. That is a matter of which those who are jealous of the reputation of Sir David Chalmers very justly complain. I understand that that is one of the charges which induced the right hon. Gentleman to send the Report to Sir Frederick Cardew for his observations. I make no complaint of that, but what I do say is that Sir David Chalmers made no accusation against Captain Moore. I readily admit that the evidence with regard to the shooting of the lad was extremely unsatisfactory, and was subjected to very acute criticism—with the whole of which I entirely agree—by Sir Frederick Cardew. But when that evidence was taken Sir David Chalmers did not believe the charge. If that is so, of course the second stricture passed—that he did not give Captain Moore an opportunity of repudiating the charge—falls to the ground. Here again the letter somewhat errs. At page 471 of the notes of the evidence the right hon. Gentleman will find that Captain Moore was asked this very question— Do you remember a man being shot at Makaia?—A. No. The only occasion on which a shot was fired was in the Kwaia country. Q. Then I take it you were not aware of a man being shot at Mabobo?—A. There was not a single shot fired the whole time except in the Kwaia country. Q. Do you remember being at Mabobo?— A.I have heard the name, but cannot fix anything. Q.You are not aware of such an incident as a man being shot?—A.No. Q. Anything about a man not giving up a cutlass?—A. Nothing of the sort during the whole of my command. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that those questions were directed to elicit from Captain Moore any contradiction which he had to give of the incident spoken to by the other witness. Captain Moore therefore was not only absolved by the Commissioners from all blame in the matter, but was actually offered an opportunity of denying the charge. I quite agree with an observation made by the right hon. Gentleman in a subsequent paragraph, that Sir David Chalmers was under a great disadvantage in the fact that he had not the benefit of cross-examination by counsel or agent representing the officers against whom the charges were made. That was certainly a disadvantage, because undoubtedly when you are testing the credibility of a witness it is an immense advantage to have him under cross-examination. Notwithstanding that disadvantage, I think the Commissioner did his duty admirably and nobly. These are just questions that anyone representing Captain Moore would necessarily have put if he knew his business, and that the Commissioner should have remembered to put them some days after the charge was made, is a striking testimony to the scrupulous care and fidelity with which he discharged his duty. The next stricture passed upon the Commissioner is with regard to a remark he made relating to another District Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman says in his letter— There is a reference in the Report to evidence that Capt. Sharpe wounded a native by striking him on the head with a stick. Sir D. Chalmers adds that Capt. Sharpe did not deny this, although not admitting it in terms. Capt. Sharpe, I observe, gave evidence that the man was very roughly handled, but that he was not wounded in any way. The evidence referred to by Sir D. Chalmers was given subsequently, and Capt. Sharpe was given no opportunity of denying it. The House will see at once that the stricture amounted to this—that whereas it had been said by a subordinate that Capt. Sharpe had struck a man on the head with a stick, the District Commissioner, when in the witness-box, was not asked specifically to contradict that statement. I can give two answers which show that the Commissioner here as in every other particular discharged his duty with scrupulous fidelity. At page 219 the following question to Capt. Sharpe will be found— Last time you were here you described an endeavour made to arrest Bai Bureh; there was a man you got hold of and brought away for a short distance; it is said that you struck him on the head and that his head was broken?—A. He was certainly very roughly handled, but he was not wounded in any way. His subordinate, some days later, was asked this question (page 461)— What force had he [the Commander-in-Chief] with him? He gives a long account of the force, and then he refers to the incident in these words— I saw the war-boys coming, and told the police to fix bayonets. The man shouted out, and Captain Sharpe hit him over the head with a short stick which had a knob of lead or iron at one end. One of the Frontiers took the sword from the man. At that time the man was bleeding. This was a mere incident in the course of an episode, and I assure the right hon. Gentleman that if this inquiry had been conducted with strict regard to the rules of legal evidence as understood in our own courts it would not have been thought necessary to recall Captain Sharpe for the purpose of saying whether or not he had a stick in his hand and struck this man on the head. If it had been the question at issue, it might have been necessary, but whether or not, Captain Sharpe does not specifically deny the thing; he says the man was very roughly handled. It was surely unnecessary to recall Captain Sharpe to contradict such a trivial statement. I must apologise to the House for detaining them, but really the feelings of Sir D. Chalmers' friends and relations are very keen upon this subject. My last stricture is in reference to another charge against a District Commissioner. The right hon. Gentleman says in his letter (paragraph 26)— Sir D. Chalmers states that he had collected information as to the arrests in the Bandajuma district from other witnesses, Captain Carr having forgotten, or not deemed it requisite in giving his evidence, to communicate the information, or indeed to make it known to me, that there had been any difficulty in the tax collection in his district. It is not alleged that Captain Carr answered any question incorrectly, and I observe that he was not asked about the arrests, either specifically or under a general question, for the Royal Commissioner passed directly from the amount collected before the rising to the rising; but to other witnesses the matter of the arrests was put specifically. The Royal Commissioner did not say that Captain Carr had answered any question incorrectly. What he said was that he did not tell him that arrests were required to be made in order to secure payment of the tax. It is right to observe, and I think the right hon. Gentleman has failed to notice in this paragraph, that Captain Carr was going home on leave of absence, and therefore he was examined at the very commencement of the inquiry, within four days of Sir David Chalmers' landing at Sierra Leone, before the Commissioner had prepared that elaborate list of questions which he submitted to witnesses later on, and before he had made himself thoroughly conversant with all the incidents connected with the insurrection. According to page 12, Captain Carr was asked a question which I am bound to say, if he had been a frank and willing witness, would necessarily have elicited any evidence he had to give relevant to the difficulties in the way of collecting the tax. He was asked how much was collected, and ho goes on about the rising. I agree he did not make any incorrect statement, but, after all, is not that putting the duty of an officer too low, especially when it is remembered that in the Commission on which Sir David Chalmers went out to Sierra Leone all officers are enjoined "to be aiding and assisting" him in executing his commission. It was not much to expect that an experienced District Commissioner, who knew it was difficult to collect the tax, and who had had to arrest and imprison men on that account, should have volunteered that information without it being extracted from him. These are the main strictures passed upon the conduct of Sir David Chalmers in this inquiry. They probably do not seem to the House to be very serious, but they were thought sufficiently serious by the Colonial Secretary to warrant him in submitting the Report to Sir Frederick Cardew for his observations. I repeat I make no complaint of that, but I do think the Colonial Secretary will agree that I have successfully shown that the strictures passed upon this able and faithful public servant are not warranted, when one closely examines the Report and the evidence and appendices by which it is accompanied. I absolve the right hon. Gentleman from any intention to cast imputations upon the impartiality or the accuracy of the findings of the Royal Commission, and if he agrees with me that I have offered these criticisms with moderation and with accuracy, I hope he will give some expression of his views to the House with regard to the services of Sir David Chalmers which will be satisfactory to those who regarded him as a man of scrupulous integrity. Nothing more is asked for, and nothing less should be given to the memory of a man who literally gave his life to the performance of his duty, and whose unimpeachable integrity and fidelity to the Queen and his country no one has ever attempted to question.

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

said ho thought his hon. friends behind him were quite justified in calling attention to the case of Sierra Leone and Sir David Chalmers, for it had given them an opportunity of drawing attention to a matter which had been crowded out by the more important questions in regard to South Africa. This was all the more necessary because certain reflections had been cast upon this old public servant both in speeches and in Reports. He thought the hon. Gentlemen behind him who had spoken on this subject had done credit not only to themselves but also to Sir David Chalmers by the manner in which they had drawn attention to this matter. The right hon. Gentleman when this matter was discussed last year on the Appropriation Bill was fully entitled to say that he was not bound as Secretary of State for the Colonies to accept the conclusions arrived at by the Commission. He had to judge of the matter as placed before him, and, of course, he made himself responsible for the conclusions to which he came. He could not agree with the pessimistic view which his hon. friend took of the present position as to the results of the hut tax, but what he wanted was to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could give them some further information than that which they had received in the Blue-books in regard to the present position of the Protectorate of Sierra Leone. Could the right hon. Gentleman tell them what position this hut tax stood in at the present moment? He should be glad to know whether the hut tax was being collected peacefully and properly, or whether it was being paid under the fear of further reprisals. When the late Government were in office they did not think it was expedient to impose that tax, and he thought the right hon. Gentleman, looking back at the position, would confess that perhaps the tax was imposed somewhat prematurely and hastily. The Report of Sir Frederick Cardew himself showed that there was very great danger of the imposition of such a tax leading to some native difficulties. From the evidence produced before Sir David Chalmers it must be confessed that this tax was imposed somewhat roughly and brutally, and he was afraid also with some illegality, and that some of these natives and chiefs were not treated in a way which was likely to lead to the peaceful collection of such an imposition as the new hut tax. He was afraid that this had produced a good deal of the difficulties which had arisen in the Protectorate. That result was shown in the right hon. Gentleman's speech last year, when he stated that regulations had been issued in regard to the collection of the hut tax which would get rid of the abuses in regard to its collection. No doubt the right hon. Gentleman would say that the hut tax was not the sole cause of the difficulties which had arisen in the Protectorate of Sierra Leone, and that those difficulties were due to some fear on the part of the natives that they would suffer from civilisation being brought into their midst. But at any rate, if the hut tax was not the sole cause, it could not be denied that it was a very serious contributory cause to the rising, and what they wanted to know at the present moment was whether the state of affairs in Sierra Leone was at present fairly satisfactory, and whether the right, hon. Gentleman proposed to take any measures or make any alteration in the hut tax itself or in the mode of its collection. The remarks which had been made in reference to the position of these District Commissioners struck him as being matters of considerable gravity. What was the statement made in regard to that matter? He understood that the Protectorate had been divided into different districts with Commissioners at their head. These Commissioners were men who had not had any legal training or opportunities of obtaining legal information, and these men were practically put there with the power of life and death in their hands. One of the passages read by the hon. Member for Wick was very significant, because it showed that one of these District Commissioners was, put there not only as the administrator but practically as a judge, and it was admitted that he was not aware that, in certain circumstances, he could inflict punishment with or without hard labour. He thought it was a very strong measure that these Commissioners without any legal training should have this enormous power of life and death. They had the power of sentencing a man to death and carrying out that sentence without any right to appeal. He knew that the matter went to the Governor for confirmation, but there was no right of appeal on the part of the man concerned. That seemed to him to be a very strong power to give to those District Commissioners. His view of the state of affairs in the Protectorate was that the pace had been rather too fast. In regard to the hinterland of our West African colonies there had been too rapid action, and it had caused fear on the part of the native chiefs that they were going to be absorbed in a way to which they objected. He thought the House was entitled to some information in regard to the present position, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to give a satisfactory account of the situation. He hoped also that the right hon. Gentleman would be able to tell them something in regard to the Ashanti war. Ho did not wish to say much about that war, because, at the present moment, they were denied information. All they knew was that the Governor had been besieged, and that a gallant rescue had been made by Colonel Willcocks. They also knew that an expeditionary force was being sent out which would cost some £250,000. It should be remembered that this was the third time that a punitive expedition had been sent into that country, and he thought the House was entitled to know how it was that we had been placed in this position a third time. Apparently the whole matter seemed to be, like the Chinese question, a sort of bolt from the blue. Something suddenly had occurred to cause this rising, and they wanted to know from the right lion. Gentleman if he had any information in regard to it, what was the real contributory cause of this rising, or whether it was, like some other events, in the nature of an "inevitable war" for which no inadequate provision had been made. They were too much accustomed to these little incidents to pay very much atten- tion to them at the present moment, because their attention was centred else-where, and public attention had not been directed to these occurrences so much. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give them some assurance that, as soon as the expedition was over and the necessary punishment had been inflicted, some proper inquiry would be held into the whole matter, so that they might know how it was that this rising had suddenly sprung upon them, and how they could prevent such a thing occurring again in the future. He was afraid this might be something in the nature of the Sierra Leone question over again. As far as one could judge, the position in Ashanti appeared to be similar to that in Sierra Leone. He was not saying whether it was right or wrong, but he thought a contributory cause of the outbreak in Ashanti was that when Ashanti was taken over the chiefs were given to understand that the independence of the country would be maintained under British control. But that pledge had not been kept. The tribes were being gradually broken up, and the chiefs were being treated in a manner they never anticipated. He hoped the right lion. Gentleman would give the Committee an assurance that a proper inquiry into the matter would be held, in order that such unfortunate occurrences, which were only too frequent and which were very serious from every point of view, might be avoided in the outlying districts of the Empire. There was one other question on which he desired information if the right hon. Gentleman would kindly give it, and that was the question of Jamaica. Two questions had arisen— one political, the other financial. With regard to the political question he understood it was practically settled. It was one of those cases in which, under the hybrid constitution which existed in many of the Crown Colonies, the unofficial members without any responsibility came into conflict with the official members with all the responsibility. He did not think that such a constitution could ever work properly. He did not blame the Secretary of State because, in the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, certain things had to be done under certain circumstances over-riding the action of the unofficial members; but what was done in Jamaica was done not only in a very high-handed manner, but he was not sure whether it was done in a legal manner. With regard to the financial position in Jamaica, he should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he was in a position to give a fairly satisfactory account of the finances of the island. The Committee would remember that last year a sum of nearly half a million was voted for the benefit of Jamaica, which was not for public works or anything of that kind, but in order to meet deficiencies in the ordinary revenue and deficiencies in regard to the interest on the railway which the island had to take over. He was afraid there was not much security for that loan. He did not complain of its having been advanced under the circumstances, but, looking at the present position of the island and to the fact that the island had to take over a mismanaged and unfortunate railway, it did not look as if much of the loan would be paid back. He desired information on three points— the financial position of Jamaica, the present position of Sierra Leone, and what steps were to be taken to restore permanent peace in Ashanti.


said his attention had been called to a matter which appeared to be of some importance, though the information furnished him was not very perfect. It had reference to the compensation which was to be awarded to colonists in Natal whose property had been destroyed or injured by the Boers. He understood that the Boers having entirely evacuated the colony, the work of compensation had been taken in hand by the Colonial Government. An allegation had been made to him that in considering the question of compensation a distinction had been drawn between private individuals and joint stock companies, and it was said that injury to the property of a company could not be considered. He had received a letter with reference to a coal mining company near Newcastle, which stated that instructions were issued that the claim of the company to compensation should not be considered. Supposing there were two collieries working side by side, one owned by a private individual and the other by a company, the former would be entitled to compensation, whereas it would appear the latter would not. A hardship would be done in such a case, and as the matter was exciting great interest in the colony he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able to assure the Committee that no such arbitrary distinction would be made.

*SIR E. ASHMEAD - BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)

With regard to the disturbance in Ashanti it has been a very serious rising. The Governor and his staff and several ladies were in the greatest possible danger for some period of time. I desire to join in the congratulations which have been offered to Colonel Willcocks on his remarkable display of military skill, perseverance, and general high, soldier like qualities. At the same time it should not be forgotten that Governor Hodgson also displayed very high qualities. The point to which I wish to direct attention is that the garrison at Coomassie was really inadequate to the demands of the situation. I asked a question on the subject about the 18th June, and the right hon. Gentleman then informed the House that there were stores for 300 men for three months in Coomassie, and that that was considered sufficient. That was a very extraordinary statement, and the Committee have a right to know who was the military authority that expressed such an opinion. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman also stated that the first attempt to relieve Coomassie had failed, owing to insufficiency of carriers. I think the right hon. Gentleman must have been misinformed. The first relieving column failed because it was repulsed by a superior force. As has been pointed out, the situation at Coomassie has cleared by the remarkable display of military qualities both by the Governor, Sir Frederick Hodgson, and Colonel Willcocks, but I think that the cause of the outbreak ought to be investigated carefully. I never felt satisfied as to the manner in which the Envoys sent over from Ashanti before the occupation of that country were received by the Colonial Office. They were denied the right of a hearing, to which apparently they had a claim, and they were refused all credence to their representations. I may be quite mistaken in that view, for I am talking at second hand; but, generally, I fear that the Ashantis have had a good deal of provocation, especially the members of the old Royal family. I only want to say one word in regard to South Africa—in regard to the position in which the loyalists there, who have suffered so much during the war, find themselves at the present moment. I think the right hon. Gentleman will agree with me that there is a good deal of suffering among certain classes in Natal and in portions of Cape Colony—though not to the same extent—and also amongst British subjects in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. I admit that there is a great deal of difficulty in dealing with this question carefully and justly, and that it will probably require a very considerable expenditure before it is satisfactorily settled. But these people have great claims upon this country. The provisions of the British Government for the defence of Natal and the Cape border were very inadequate, although very ample warning had been given. That, however, is a very large question which I do not propose to raise in any detail now. But it is a very important question, and has a very large bearing on the claims of these people upon us. The defence of the Government as to the inadequacy of the preparations was that the moment they had determined to put the colonies into a strictly military defensive position that moment the enemy would have in any case attacked. That might be a good defence, but it had been pressed too far. A great deal of the want of preparation was due to defects in our constitutional system —making questions of war or peace depend on popularity or on popularity rather than on the real necessities of the case. Whether that be so or not, our responsibilities are great towards these suffering people. I ask whether it may not be possible to take some temporary steps, by sending out a high officer or a small commission to South Africa, which would have power to give some form of temporary relief to the loyalists not only in the British colonies, but in the Transvaal and the Orange Free State, who have suffered through no fault of their own. We had hoard of temporary assistance being given to the relations of British officers who perished owing to the unfortunate action of another Power, until the whole question of compensation could be settled; and it appears to me that something in the same direction might be done in South Africa. If that were done, it would give great satisfaction to our loyal colonists, who have great claims upon us. I admit there are difficulties in the way, but a practical method might be found by the Imperial Govern- ment of giving that temporary assistance which is needed so badly.


In answering the various questions which have been put to me in the discussion, I will, in the first place, deal with the reference by the hon. Member for Wick and the hon. Member for Linlithgowshire to the Report of Sir David Chalmers and the incidents connected with the insurrection in Sierra Leone. I confess I was at first almost unable to understand why the hon. Member for Wick should have thought it necessary, when the matter had become almost ancient history, to repeat a large portion of the argument which he addressed to the Committee on the Appropriation Bill last year, and which I answered fully, better, perhaps, than I can do now, because then the facts were fresh in my recollection. But the hon. Members for Wick and Linlithgowshire are anxious that some feeling of soreness that has been created in the minds of the relatives of the late Sir David Chalmers should be removed. With that desire I heartily sympathise, and, as far as it is in my power, I will comply with their request. But in the meantime, referring to some of the observations of the hon. Member for Wick, I would point out to him that he has been very considerably misinformed in what he said about the hut tax. He went again over the complaints made last year—the harshness of its collection, and the conduct of the District Commissioner. I gave last, year the reasons for the policy of imposing the hut tax, and showed the absolute impossibility of finding any alternative. If peace and order are to be maintained in this vast district we must have funds, and there are no other means of raising them so easy or so suitable as the hut tax has shown itself to be, not only in Sierra Leone but in every other country in which we have had to deal with native races. As regards the incidence of the hut tax, there is nothing further to be said. But the hon. Member opposite, while complaining of what he calls charges against Sir David Chalmers, himself makes most offensive charges against those who are at present officials of the Government. I appeal to the hon. Member to consider the effect of such speeches. Defend Sir David Chalmers by all means, but do not attack those whom you have never seen, who are carrying on a very difficult work at the risk of their health and their lives for a very small remuneration. It is these men upon whom we depend for the work of civilisation and the development which we have undertaken, and it is most unfair to make charges which, with all the rest of the speech omitted, will be sent out to the colony, and may have the effect of discouraging men who are doing their duty I in very difficult circumstances. I protest against that much too frequent action of hon. Members, and one of the worst offenders is the hon. Member for Poplar, who, after occupying an important position in the Colonial Office, might have been thought to be willing to defend officials, many of whom were appointed during his term of office.


All that I said was that I objected to the powers given to those officials.


The hon. Member for Poplar, speaking of a letter which confirms the statement of the hon. Member for Wick, says it is a monstrous thing that the District Commissioners should have powers of life and death in the Protectorate, and at the same time says ho believes that all the difficulties in the Protectorate and all the difficulties in Ashanti (eight hundred miles away, with two separate countries in between— and the most difficult country in the world) were caused by our interference with the privileges of the native chiefs. I quite agree that if you are to deal with the government of these vast protectorates — I am not talking of colonies, for they are different—you must, as far as possible, deal with them through the chiefs, and according to native customs and native law. What is the case? The chiefs have the power of life and death over their own people in the Protectorate, and all we have done is to insist that there shall be a European assessor in the shape of a District Commissioner, and that Commissioner is to see that justice is being done. The sentence of death is passed by the chief, with the consent of the District Commissioner, who has power to disallow the sentence. Something has been said about the qualifications of District Commissioners. It is not easy to find competent British lawyers to go into the wilds of Africa, with no white man within hundreds of miles. In the second place, what use do you think British law would be where cases are dealt with according to native law? It is not our business to interfere with the chiefs except so far as is necessary in the cause of humanity and to prevent oppression. With regard to Sir David Chalmers and the reception of his Report, I really am very much grieved that I should be thought to have uttered a word of complaint respecting anything done by Lady Chalmers, whom I regard, and with whom I sympathise very much in the loss of her husband, who was a valuable servant of the Crown. But I do think the relatives of Sir David Chalmers are unreasonable, for when I read what I said when the first discussion took place, I hardly see how it is possible it could have the effect represented. I said— I have not one word to say against him. He was recommended to me by his long experience of his work and his most valuable public services. He had been Chief Justice, and was therefore naturally supposed to have, and rightly supposed to have, a judicial and impartial mind, and he most patriotically agreed to go out to a country of whose climate he had had some experience. It was there, I am afraid, that he contracted the seeds of new disease, and he has suffered very severely in consequence. Sir David Chalmers was selected as the most impartial and judicious man I could find, and I am most thankful, most grateful, to him for the very valuable inquiries he made. I think he has placed a most valuable number of facts before us; and although I have not found myself able to agree with all the conclusions at which he arrived, I am none the less sensible of the obligations I am under to him for the inquiry and for the services be has done. How was it possible to say more than that? I had to do justice not only to Sir David Chalmers, but also to those who lay under the imputations which were necessarily implied in his Report. In defending them I did not accuse him. I did not doubt then and I do not now his absolute impartiality, and his painstaking, scrupulous general accuracy; but, having to act myself as a final court of appeal in this matter, I came to the I conclusion that in some respects ho had been too hard on other officers in the colonial service, and I was obliged to point out that in those cases I had not been able to accept his conclusions. But with his most important recommendations I agreed, and we have since carried out the reforms, he suggested, I believe with the very best result. I have further to say that the hon. Member for Poplar was inaccurate in the statements he made with regard to the result of the hut tax. I cannot answer for the future. It is true that we do not know enough of these savage countries to be able always to predict beforehand what is likely to go on among them, what will happen, or what difficulty will occur. We have not a sufficient number of Europeans amongst them. All I can say at the present time is that the hut tax appears to be collected with the greatest ease. There is no difficulty of any kind, and there is no anticipation of any present disorder, and the finances of Sierra Leone are at the present moment in a very satisfactory condition. The hon. Member for Poplar and the hon. Member for the Ecclesall Division of Sheffield referred to what was going on in Ashanti. I rejoice to confirm what has been said about the splendid gallantry of the native troops employed there under the skilful leadership of Colonel Willcocks, and the way in which Sir Frederic and Lady Hodgson and all members of the garrison endured the privations of the siege. Everything connected with that part of the incident must be extremely satisfactory to the House. What has been done up to the present time has never been done before and could never be done before. I wish to dwell on this fact a little, because it is no doubt probable that in future years, if I hold my present position, I may have to come to the House for a grant for what is known as the West African Frontier Force. The West African Frontier Force is a new force of 5,000 men raised from the Hausas in West Africa, and intended not merely for the protection of our interests in northern Nigeria, but to be used in local disturbances throughout West Africa. In the present instance, the moment we heard of the difficulties in Coomassie, although the Governor did not anticipate that the rising would be as serious as it had been, I telegraphed to Colonel Lugard, who was able to send him all the troops I asked for. Only about 1,500 of these troops had been placed on the coast a short time, and it is of these troops especially that Colonel Willcocks speaks in such glowing terms. Happily it has been proved that they are a most splendid race of fighting men, able to supply any deficiency of men we thought at one time likely to be experienced because we were unable to get Hausa troops. The hon. Member asks me what was the cause of this disturbance. We have not the facts before us, and it would be hopeless to attempt at the present moment to give any reasonable account of what has happened. But I think that one or two things will suggest themselves to hon. Members. It is said that there have been three expeditions to Ashanti. The expedition under Lord Wolseley was not an expedition which resulted in any permanent occupation of the country; it was merely a punitive expedition; it was enormously costly because so many white men were employed. Then we had the expedition in 1896, which resulted in the occupation of the country; but that expedition was a bloodless expedition. We had no occasion to fight, and there is no doubt in these circumstances that the Ashantis entertained a high opinion of their prowess, and were prepared to try conclusions with us when they believed that they had a reason to be discontented. What special cause of discontent they have at the present time it is too early to say, but that will be, no doubt, a subject of inquiry on the part of the Colonial Office when the proper time comes.


Why was there so small a garrison?


Because it was thought to be sufficient. It was quite sufficient for the purpose for which it was intended to be there —that is to say, sufficient for ordinary times. If my hon. friend intends to suggest to me that throughout West Africa and the colonies for which I am responsible I should have always on the spot a sufficient number of troops to put down any rising that may occur, all I can say is that I should cease to be an Imperialist. Powerful and rich as this country is, it is quite impossible to undertake that. We must take the risks of Empire. There is no doubt that if we profess to govern and control and be responsible for these vast territories, we hold them only with a comparatively small number of troops, and when a trouble arises in any place it is almost certain that we should not have at the spot the number of men required to put down the rising. All we can hope for is that we should have within reach a sufficient number of men to deal with it. If my hon. friend will consider what we are answerable for in Nigeria, in Lagos, on the Gold Coast, in Sierra Leone, and that we have at the present time a little over 4,000 troops there, I think he will understand that it is impossible to be always thoroughly prepared for any sudden disturbance.


I did not expect that at all. I said that a garrison of 300 men in an important position like Coomassie was insufficient. I still adhere to that view. Besides, the subsequent expense entailed by the successful rising is far greater.


I do not think that a garrison of 300 men is insufficient, and if we had had 600 men there it would have been no better. In order to have dealt with this most serious insurrection in a satisfactory way it is evident we should require at least 2,000 men, and nothing of that kind was contemplated as a permanent garrison for Coomassie. I have come to the conclusion that it is desirable in future to hold a much larger stock of ammunition in Coomassie. The greatest difficulty is in regard to food. In that climate even tinned food will not last. It is impossible to have a large supply of food to last for more than three months. Our difficulties have not come to an end in Ashanti. We still have fighting to do, and reinforcements will still be required there. But the great security for the Gold Coast will be found in the railways which we are now making. We have arranged, on terms most satisfactory to the colony, for the continuation of the railway to Coomassie, which was authorised two years ago, and as soon as we get the railway there I do not think we shall have any trouble in Ashanti. If it had not been for this unfortunate occurrence the finances of the Gold Coast would be in a most satisfactory condition. In the last two years we expected to have an average surplus of something like £50,000, which would have enabled us to repay the entire loan which we borrowed from the Treasury for the purposes of the last expedition. All that is now postponed for a considerable time, but if my anticipations are fulfilled the annual surplus in a reasonable time will allow us to pay the expenses not only of the last but of the present expedition. With reference to Jamaica and its finances, I am sorry that the hon. Member for Poplar takes so poor a view of the future prosperity of the island. I am much more sanguine than the hon. Member. I think that the neck of the trouble in Jamaica has been broken, and I look forward with hope to the prospect of improvement from three separate quarters. First of all, the taxes have been considerably raised. I am aware the tariff has given some offence to some hon. Members, but the people must be prepared to bear the infliction until we may be in a position to relieve them, as I hope that will be soon. We have been enabled, thanks to the liberality of Parliament, to give a subsidy, partly by the colony and partly by the Imperial Government, to a great steamship firm, Messrs. Elder, Dempster, and Co., and I hope shortly to see a direct rapid and improved passenger and fruit service established between this country and Jamaica. I confess that I have great hopes of the development of what is even now one of the most important industries in the island. The third expectation arises from the improvement which I hope will now take place in the administration of the railway. It has been involved in serious embarrassments and has been badly managed, but we are taking the necessary steps to correct this defect, and I hope, now that the railway is in the hands of the Government, and they have established their right to control the financial transactions, we shall be able to put the finances in a satisfactory condition. I now turn to a subject mentioned to the House by the hon. Member for Preston. It has been stated that, according to existing proposals, compensation is not to be paid to companies in Natal and elsewhere whose property has been injured as distinguished from injury done to individuals. I do not think that statement is perfectly correct, but it is true that we have carefully avoided making ourselves in any way responsible for making compensation in the case of mines. I may tell my hon. friend the Member for Preston that in doing that we had in view the danger of setting up any precedent which might be extremely inconvenient hereafter. Fortunately, the injury done to mines, whether in Natal or elsewhere, has been very slight; but although I am not in any way prepared to pledge myself to make any compensation to the coal mine owners in Natal, yet if the colony are themselves desirous of making inquiry into the matter I should offer no objection, leaving the question of decision for a later period. In connection with a similar matter the hon. Member for Ecclesall asks me a question in regard to the position of British subjects in Natal, in Cape Colony, in the Transvaal, and in the Orange River Colony, who are in distress. I admit that a great number of British subjects are in great distress. Their condition is a subject for general sympathy. I should be sorry if anything I say should be construed into any want of sympathy with them, or that we were ignorant of the sufferings which they have undergone in many cases in consequence of their loyalty. But if my hon. friend the Member for Ecclesall wishes the Government to undertake some sort of general responsibility for compensation in those colonies, I think he cannot have considered to what it would lead. The question of compensation to colonists is surely in the first instance a matter for the colonial Government. If this country is never to enter on the defence of any of its colonies without undertaking at the same time responsibility for all injury that may be done to those colonies by war, I think it would he a strong argument with many people against this country ever undertaking the defence of colonies at all. Let hon. Gentlemen consider what our colonies are. What are the liabilities of some of our great colonies? We might, under conceivable circumstances, be called upon to defend a great colony against a great Power, and that colony might be invaded and immense mischief might be done. Surely that would not be a case in which the mother country, which was expending blood and treasure in defence of the colony, should also be expected to pay for the necessary consequences of war? I cannot undertake any responsibility of that kind, although, of course, if there were special cases brought to our knowledge, I am sure the Government would give the matter their most careful consideration.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution read a second time, and agreed to.